A year ago, I stood looking ahead at uncertainty, filled with fear. I want to take a look back at what I’ve learned this year, and try to share some of the precious truths with you. This has been my year of hope – because nothing, nothing, can hold back hope!
I’ve learned that hope is so much more than the feeling we had, as children, eagerly waiting for Christmas morning. Hope encompasses so much more.
To hope implies that we know we have a need or a want.
When the car breaks down and we hope the tow truck comes along soon, it’s because we have a need for their help. Or when we’re at the doctor with a sick child, we hope the doctor can help.
When we want to get together with a friend, we hope our plans will come together.
To hope also implies trust.
We hope the chair will hold us; well, we’re not going to sit in an obviously broken chair, are we? Of course not. We’ll pick the one that looks sturdy.
If you are struggling and need a friend to pull you through, you’re going to hope in a friend who you trust to actually help you.
To hope in God, though, is so much more than acknowledging a need and trusting in Him.
To hope in God means that we stand with all the authority of His Word,
the Bible, as our strength and our defense.
Hope in God means a trust in His unfailing promises.
At the start of 2014, I stood looking into the proverbial lion’s mouth.
Fear, shame, guilt – they were sharp teeth ready to grab hold and devour my life.
For months I said a very simple prayer because I did not know what else to pray.
My prayer was just four words:
“Jesus, mercy and grace….”
And He protected me – maybe not in the way I’d hoped for, but His ways are so much higher than ours, aren’t they? I’d rather put my hope – my trust – into an all-knowing God than into my own finite abilities.
I prayed mercy and grace for a large part of the year. On occasion, I stood in that power from God and determined to let the enemy know that my God was bigger than any attacks the enemy could send my way.
In September, I was blessed with a free ticket to Women of Faith. One of the speakers spoke directly to the whole idea of the proverbial lions we face. Her message was based on the story of Daniel in the lions’ den, when Daniel was sure that he would be attacked and killed by the lions. Daniel survived the night and the king asked him how that could possibly have happened.
“My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions.”
Our God never changes. He is the same through all ages. If He can send an angel to shut the mouths of the lions for Daniel, He can do the same for us.
The speaker was reminding us to live in the boldness of hope in God, and to remind our lions that
My God can shut your mouth!
That has been such a powerful reminder for me as I have stared into the mouths of my own lions. The One I place my hope in, the changeless God of the ages, can shut the mouths of hungry lions waiting to devour us. The story of Daniel has been a challenge and reminder to me to live a life honoring to God, and to remind the lions that my God is so much more powerful than they are!
I have lived a year of hope – a year of acknowledging my needs, a year of needing to trust.
God very clearly gave me the word “hope” for 2014 and I have learned to stand firm in my hope in God.
I have learned that nothing can hold back hope when God Himself is our Hope!
This is the verse that God placed on my heart, and reminded me of, many times through the year of hope:
“As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.”
As I have looked back at 2014 and prayed with thanksgiving, I have also started to ask God for a word for the new year. He has answered in a special way! For as important as hope has been in 2014, I am almost giddy with joy looking ahead to 2015.
There have been a few verses that have come to my heart so far, in looking ahead for the new year. This one, though – this is so perfect to end the year and start the new year:
“Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with Him is full redemption.”
As we prepare to move from this year and into the next,
I know that nothing can hold back Hope, especially as it ushers in Redemption.
The year ahead is the year of Redemption!